MANILA — Attendees of a campaign rally in Laguna were caught on video Thursday receiving envelopes containing cash, which the governor said are regular allowances.
The rally was for vice presidential candidate Sara Duterte, running-mate of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. who was absent in the event.
A video showed envelopes with cash being distributed to some of the attendees after the event.
But in a statement, Laguna Governor Ramil Hernandez said the envelopes are allowances from the provincial government that are regularly given to barangay health workers and volunteers.
"Today ang bigayan ng allowance nila kaya sila natipon doon sa sports complex," Hernandez said.
"Hindi po isinabay ang pamimigay ng allowance today. Bigayan po talaga ng allowance today. 'Yong pagbisita ni Mayor Sara po ang isinabay," he added.
Earlier this month, people attending a Marcos-Duterte rally in Sta. Rosa, Nueva Ecija also received white envelopes filled with money.
But Nueva Ecija Governor Aurelio Umali said the envelopes were financial assistance that were scheduled to be distributed to the residents.
Last Tuesday, reelectionist Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla also handed out cash prizes to audience members during a Marcos-Duterte rally in Dasmariñas City.
The Commission on Elections has said either giving out money or holding raffles during the campaign period are prohibited under the law.
Remulla defended his action, saying the official campaign period for local candidates — scheduled to begin on Friday — had yet to start at the time.
Under the Omnibus Election Code, vote buying is prohibited, with penalties of imprisonment for 1 to 6 years and disqualification to hold public office.
Article XXII of the Omnibus Election Code refers to vote buying as "any person who gives, offers or promises money or anything of value... in order to induce anyone or the public in general to vote for or against any candidate or withhold his vote in the election, or to vote for or against any aspirant for the nomination or choice of a candidate in a convention or similar selection process of a political party."
— Report from Zandro Ochona, ABS-CBN News